Increased Incidence of Malignancies in Sweden After the Chernobyl Accident—A Promoting Effect?


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Background After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, as much as 5% of the released caesium-137 was deposited in Sweden due to a heavy rainfall 2 days after the event. A study of increased incidence of malignancies was initiated after the accident.

Methods The cohort included 1,137,106 inhabitants who were 0–60 years old in 1986 and lived in 8 counties of Sweden with the highest fallout of caesium-137.With the dwelling coordinate, GIS-technique and a digital map on caesium-137, each individual was matched for the exposure. Adjustments were made for several potential confounding factors. During the follow-up 33,851 malignancies was recorded 1988–1999.

Results Exposure categories were: 0–8 (reference), 9–23, 24–43, 44–66, 67–84, and ≥85 nGy/hr. The corresponding adjusted Mantel-Haenszel incidence rate ratios for total malignancies during follow-up amounted to 1.000, 0.997, 1.072, 1.114, 1.068, 1.125, respectively. The excess relative risk per 100 nGy/hr with the same adjustments and time period was 0.042 95% confidence limit 0.001;0.084. An excess for thyroid cancer or leukemia could not be ruled out.

Conclusion Increased incidence of total malignancies possibly related to the fallout from the Chernobyl accident is seen. Am. J. Ind. Med. 49:159–168, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc